After nearly being eliminated from competition a week ago, Olympic figure skater Johnny Weir really sank his teeth into the Viennese waltz on Monday night’s episode of “Dancing With the Stars.”
His neck-biting, vampire-themed performance earned Weir and his professional dance partner, Britt Stewart, redemption, along with high marks from the judges on the ABC-TV ballroom competition’s “Villains Night.” The celebrity dancers performed dressed as famous movie and TV villains.
Weir, a Quarryville native, told a story from his teen years that demonstrated how he’s most successful when he’s striving to succeed despite adversity.
Having been one of two couples considered for elimination last week, Weir and Stewart earned 27 out of 30 points from the judges’ panel Monday night, ending the night in a three-way tie for second place and moving onto next week’s competition.
Dressed in a white ruffled shirt and white pants, topped with a long, high-collared, sheer scarlet coat, Weir accessorized with his hair waved and pulled back in a ponytail, fangs in his mouth and a bit of “blood” dripping from his lips.
With Stewart in a white Victorian-style gown, the pair swept and twirled confidently around the ballroom studio to a cover version of the Radiohead hit, “Creep” — a song to which Weir has skated in exhibitions many times, all over the world.
In a video shot during rehearsal, Weir connected his affection for vampire characters with a struggle he and his mother faced when he was an up-and-coming teen figure skater — knowing he was gay.
“I’ve always had quite an affinity for vampires,” he said. “I don’t know if it’s their beauty aesthetic, the castles they live in or that they don’t feel like they ever belong.
“Growing up in figure skating, I never felt accepted into the community that I was trying desperately to be a part of,” he said. “I just turned 16 and I was competing internationally, at an Olympic level, and an agent approached me with my mom (Patti Weir) and said, ‘The world is your oyster, and we’re the agency that can take you where you want to be.’
“But he then looked at me and my mom and he said, ‘If you work with us and we create a future for you, you can’t be gay.’ And, at 16, standing with your mother, that isn’t necessarily a topic that you want to address,” Weir said. “My sexuality wasn’t something that I really voiced, because you’re afraid of how something that is inside you will affect other people and you can’t fix that. You can’t change that.
“I was mortified, and I remember going up to our room,” Weir said. “And my mom just said, ‘We don’t need them. You’re just going to skate really well. You’re going to book the jobs by yourself.’ … So you learn to listen to no one but your heart.
“And being unique has given me the life that I have,” Weir said, adding that performing to the song “Creep” empowers him and turns “everything I felt bad about” into something good.
“The best performances I ever gave on the ice were when I had the most to prove,” Weir said, noting that, after the incident with the agent, he went on to win the U.S. National Championship in men’s figure skating three times.
Weir, who lived in Quarryville until his family moved to Delaware when he was in middle school, also competed in the 2006 and 2010 Winter Olympics.
“You floated through that (waltz) like a dream,” judge Carrie Ann Inaba — who voted to eliminate Weir and Stewart last week — said after Weir and Stewart performed their Gothic waltz.
“You’re a rock star,” she said, complimenting the couple’s strength, power and storytelling.
Judge Bruno Tonioni said the dance struck a good balance between fluidity and “bite.”
At the end of Monday’s competition, cheer coach Monica Aldama from Netflix’s docu-series “Cheer” was eliminated from the contest.
Weir, who’s also a broadcaster and TV personality, has had a busy few days. In between “DWTS” rehearsals, he returned to his regular gig of providing commentary and analysis for skating competitions on NBC networks.
He spent the weekend doing remote commentary for the Skate America competition held in Las Vegas. He was teamed, as usual, with his longtime broadcasting partner and fellow Olympic skater Tara Lipinski.
Weir has been a Food Network host, appeared on reality competitions and game shows for charity and was featured in Netflix’s skating drama “Spinning Out.”
On next week’s “Dancing With the Stars,” starting at 8 p.m. Monday, Nov. 2, on ABC, each of the nine remaining couples will perform two dances, and two couples will be eliminated.
On social media after the show, Weir said one of those dances will be a foxtrot to the Shawn Mendes song “Wonder.”